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Pillow Sizes and Dimensions Guide

Lara Vargas

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Pillows encourage healthy alignment by positioning your neck so it’s parallel to your shoulders and hips. Without proper alignment, your body’s heavier sections may sag, creating pressure points and leading to back pain. It’s essential to choose the right pillow, and part of that is knowing what pillow size is right for you.

In our article, we review the standard pillow sizes to help you find the best pillow. We also give you information on what to look for when shopping for a new pillow.

Pillow Sizes and Dimensions Chart

Pillow SizeMeasurement (IN)Measurement (CM)
Standard20 inches by 26 inches51 cm by 56 cm
Queen20 inches by 30 inches51 cm by 76 cm
King20 inches by 36 inches51 cm by 92 cm
Body20 inches by 54 inches51 cm by 137 cm

Standard Size Pillows

Pillow Dimensions: 20 inches by 26 inches

Standard size pillows are small and compact, perfect for twin and twin XL size mattresses. Two standard pillows can also rest comfortably on a full or queen size bed. They’re also an excellent choice for sleepers who don’t toss and turn in their sleep—like side, back, and stomach sleepers. (Combination sleepers may slide off the pillow and experience neck pain on a standard pillow.)

Another variant of the standard size pillow is the super standard size. It’s about 2 inches longer than the standard pillow but still fits inside a standard pillowcase. The super standard is not as common as other pillow sizes.

Queen Size Pillows

Pillow Dimensions: 20 inches by 30 inches

A queen size pillow is 4 inches longer than a standard pillow. The longer size is an excellent fit for queen, king, and California king beds. Two queen pillows placed together cover the 60-inch width of a queen size mattress.

Queen pillows are also an excellent option for combination sleepers who can change positions without worrying about sliding off the pillow. Some queen size pillows can fit inside a standard pillowcase, but it might be a good idea to check the pillowcase dimensions before purchasing. You don’t want to end up with a bedding set if the pillowcases are too small.

King Size Pillows

Pillow Dimensions: 20 inches by 36 inches

King size pillows are the perfect size for combination sleepers. The extra length ensures the head and neck remain cushioned even when tossing and turning. You can also use a king pillow for back support while watching TV or reading a book in bed. The pillow bolsters your spine, providing a comfortable seated position.

A king size pillow can rest nicely on smaller mattresses like a twin, twin XL, or full size bed. Bigger mattress sizes, like queen and king mattresses, may need two pillows (though two king pillows on a queen will be a tight fit). A queen size mattress is 60 inches wide—two king size pillows side by side equals 72 inches wide. Two standard or queen size pillows would be better for a queen mattress.

Body Pillows

Pillow Dimensions: 20 inches by 54 inches

Body pillows are designed to curve around the length of your body. One end cradles your head and neck, while the other end can tuck between your knees or feet. Body pillows are an excellent way to enhance pressure relief and encourage spinal alignment—especially for side sleepers.

The extra-long midsection of a body pillow can also prevent you from rolling onto your back or stomach during sleep. Body pillows also benefit pregnant women by encouraging side sleeping and supporting their growing belly.

Other Pillow Sizes

Other pillow sizes are available that don’t follow the standard sizing. These include throw, Euro, orthopedic, and travel pillows. Specially sized pillows have unique shapes for decoration or to support a specific area of the body.

Throw

Throw pillows vary in size, but they usually have a square shape, unlike the rectangular structure of a standard pillow. Throw pillows are mostly used for decorative purposes on beds, chairs, and couches. You may also see them referred to as pillow or bed shams.

Throw pillows can be also used to enhance comfort and support. For instance, using a throw pillow for sitting in bed or to elevate the legs is common.

Euro

Euro pillows are large square-shaped pillows, about 26 inches by 26 inches. While these pillows are popular in European countries, they’re mostly used for decoration in the United States, typically placed behind standard size pillows on the mattress.

Euro pillows can also be used to support the back, hips, and legs. You can comfortably lean against a back pillow when watching TV. Placing a Euro pillow between your knees reduces pressure in your hips when sleeping on your side. Using a Euro pillow to raise your legs can decrease pressure in the lower back, especially for back sleepers.

Orthopedic

Orthopedic pillows come in different shapes and sizes, but they are built to relieve pain in the neck, shoulders, or back. The pillow’s unique structure follows orthopedic guidelines to encourage healthy alignment when lying down. If you experience joint pain or discomfort in a specific area of your body, talk with your healthcare provider about possible orthopedic pillow recommendations for a good night’s sleep.

Travel

Travel pillows are quite small and typically curve into a C shape. The C shape enables the pillow to curl around your neck with the sides giving you a place to rest your head. These smaller pillows make them portable and easy to fit inside a suitcase or carry-on bag.

What to Consider Before Buying a Pillow

Size is not the only important factor to consider when searching for a new pillow. You should also think about the type of pillow you want, your sleeping position, and your budget. Taking the time to do a little extra research can help you find the best pillow and eventually improve your sleep.

Pillow Type

Different types of pillows provide varying levels of comfort and support. For example, buckwheat conforms to your head and neck but has a firmer feel compared to memory foam. Some materials may also have extra features, including adjustable loft and cooling components.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is a dense material that conforms closely to the body. Heat and pressure soften memory foam and cause it to form around your head and neck. Memory foam may retain heat, but manufacturers may alter the structure or add cooling components to regulate temperature better and prevent overheating.

Memory foam pillows support your head and automatically adjust when you shift your sleeping position. Memory foam pillows contain either a solid piece of foam or are filled with shredded memory foam. You may prefer shredded memory foam pillows if you want to adjust the loft.

Latex

Latex conforms to the head and neck to ease pressure, but it doesn’t contour as closely as memory foam. Instead, latex has a naturally firmer feel. With a latex pillow, you still enjoy support and pressure relief, but latex sleeps cooler, so there’s less risk of waking up hot.

Natural latex is made using sustainable practices and the end product is very durable. It is made from rubber tree sap that’s been whipped into a froth and baked at a specific temperature. Synthetic and blended latex does not come with the same eco-friendly benefits, but they do feel similar (they’re just not as durable).

Down

Down pillows are some of the most expensive pillows on the market. Some models may cost over $200, depending on the brand. Their soft, adjustable loft comes from the soft, fluffy down clusters found under the outer feathers of birds.

Down pillows mold to any shape. Plus, they are easy to fluff if you want a higher loft. Most down pillows contain a combination of down and feathers—the outer feathers give the pillow support. To be considered a true down pillow, the filling must contain at least 75 percent down clusters.

Down Alternative

Down alternative pillows contain any material that mimics the softness of real down feathers. These materials can include polyester, cotton, or wool. Down alternative pillows can be shaped and fluffed, just like down pillows. Down alternative pillows are also a lot cheaper—typically priced between $10 to $30, depending on pillow size and brand.

Even though down feathers are more natural, those with allergies may prefer a down alternative pillow. Unlike down, down alternatives are hypoallergenic. They’re less likely to attract dust mites and other potential allergens, helping you sleep uninterrupted.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a natural pillow that has a firmer surface compared to other pillow types. While buckwheat doesn’t conform in the same way as memory foam and latex, it does contour to your head and neck to provide firm support, something back and stomach sleepers may enjoy.

While not as expensive as down, buckwheat pillows can still cost up to $100 because they contain hundreds of buckwheat hulls. The pillow may actually feel pretty heavy to some, but if you don’t move around in your sleep, this won’t be a problem.

Water

Water pillows are another pillow option that can feel heavy and prove difficult to move. These pillows rely on water for comfort and support. The less water the pillow contains, the softer the pillow will feel. Water levels also determine the pillow’s loft. These features make a water pillow a good choice for any type of sleeper.

Price

Pillows vary in price depending on their materials, size, and any special features they may contain. For the most part, the larger the pillow, the higher the price tag. Standard size pillows are the most affordable, while body pillows are usually the most expensive. Generally, you can expect to pay $10 to $200 for a high-quality pillow.

Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position determines how well your pillow supports your neck, head, and spine. Sleeping on the wrong pillow for your sleeping position can lead to pain or even injury.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping leaves the largest gap between the head and the bed, increasing the risk of neck pain if your pillow is too thin or thick. The best pillows for side sleepers typically have a mid to high loft.

If you’re a side sleeper, you may want to consider a gusseted pillow. These pillows have an extra strip of fabric sewn around the pillow’s edges, creating more height. Gusseted pillows can also conform better to your shoulders than other standard pillows.

Stomach Sleeping

Stomach sleepers feel most comfortable resting their head on a low-loft pillow or no pillow at all. The lower loft prevents the spine from arching and keeps the neck in alignment.

Back Sleeping

Back sleepers may experience the least amount of pressure against the spine because they sleep in a neutral position.

The best pillow for back sleepers is a medium-loft pillow, which provides balanced support to the head and maintains the spine’s natural curvature. A higher or lower loft pillow could create pressure points and cause back pain.

Combination Sleeping

Combination sleepers toss and turn at night, which is why they need a pillow that will cradle their head and neck consistently. A medium-loft pillow is the best loft for combination sleepers. It provides a balance of support and cushioning no matter the sleeping position.

FAQs

How are pillow sizes measured?

Pillows are measured in inches, and sometimes in centimeters. If you’re not sure what size pillow you should get, measure your mattress’s width and work with what will fit best. For full, queen, king, and California king size beds, you may want at least two pillows to lay across the surface.

Just be sure to avoid pillow sizes that are too big. If the pillow is dangling off the edge of the bed, it may fall off while you sleep.

How much bigger should a pillowcase be than the pillow?

For the best fit, a pillowcase should be a half-inch to one inch longer and wider than your pillow. The extra space ensures the pillow won’t be crammed inside the pillowcase. Plus, it may prevent damage to the pillow and the pillowcase.

Can I wash my pillows?

You should wash your pillows at least twice a year. If you’re not sure your pillow is machine-washable, check the care tag. Some pillows may require dry cleaning. Additionally, if the pillow is too big for your washing machine, it might be a good idea to take it to the local laundromat for cleaning. In between washes, you can spot-clean your pillow with a store-bought or DIY solution.

To better protect your pillow and possibly help it last longer, you may want to invest in a waterproof pillow cover. In case of a spill or stain, simply remove the cover and place it in the washing machine.

Where should your pillow rest when you sleep?

The pillow should cradle your head and neck. Some pillows, like body pillows, can lend support to other areas of your body at the same time. Extra pillows can also be strategically placed for better comfort and support.

For instance, stomach sleepers may not need a pillow under their head, but placing a thin pillow under their hips can improve their comfort. Stomach sleeping puts intense pressure on the spine. Slightly elevating the hips reduces spinal pressure.

How elevated should your head be when sleeping?

Head elevation depends on your sleeping position. The idea is to keep your neck parallel to the shoulders and hips to maintain healthy spinal alignment. If your head is raised too high, it may cause the spine to arch, and you may experience back pain. If your head is too low, more pressure builds up in the neck, causing stiffness and pain.

Conclusion

Sleeping on the right pillow is just as important as choosing the best mattress, and the right pillow is all about size, type, and loft. Generally, manufacturers create bed pillow sizes to match standard mattress sizes, so that way, the bed’s overall appearance looks more uniform.

However, the pillow size should be based on personal preference instead of aesthetics. For example, if you’re a combination sleeper, you may prefer a queen or king size pillow, so your head and neck are consistently resting on the pillow when you switch sleeping positions. Otherwise, with a smaller size, your head may roll off the pillow and onto the mattress.

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